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Knee-Jerk Reaction

You have likely heard the expression “knee-jerk reaction”. Just in case, this idiom refers to our sudden bodily response to being hit on our knee – called patella. I think it is a good expression to describe an immediate response we experience in conflict when we are triggered by certain things that offend and hurt us. While we physically react to our knee being hit, we emotionally and physically react when certain sensibilities are struck by something the other person says or does.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog is about this concept and specifically, a tendency to react quickly – even impulsively – without taking time to consider what to say or how to say it. It’s a time we might feel our stomachs turn, face get red, hands fidget or clench, and other somatic signs of stress. If you consider any tendency you have to react in a way that could be described as a “knee-jerk reaction”, please bring to mind one of those situations – and ask yourself these questions.

  • What was the situation in which you had a knee-jerk reaction?
  • What specifically resulted in your knee-jerk reaction?
  • What emotional reaction did you experience? What physical one?
  • Which other sorts of situations trigger that reaction (actions, words, etc.)? If it’s with anyone in particular, why do you suppose that is?
  • What is the sensitivity you experience at these times, i.e. why those sorts of things?
  • What do you dislike most about your reaction in these situations?
  • How do you prefer to respond?
  • What gets in your way of responding in your preferred manner?
  • What might it take for you to respond in your preferred way?
  • How will someone observing you describe your response (instead of knee-jerk) when you respond in your preferred way?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#metaphor

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching, Metaphors, Reactions | 1 Comment

Go and Come In Peace

When my mother was alive, she would always say “go and come in peace” whenever I traveled. As an avid traveler I heard the phrase a lot, and I must say I miss its resounding message. The expression was one of a number of mom’s signature ones that had to variously do with being careful, not getting into trouble or hurt by the circumstances I might encounter, enjoying the experience, staying calm in the face of any adversity, and being happy with my adventures throughout the journey.

It occurred to me, as I was recalling this expression, that saying “go and come in peace” is a good way of suggesting to ourselves and others to approach interpersonal conflicts. That is, I am thinking that if we go into difficult communications and situations with a peaceful premise and mindset, we are more likely to come out in a more peaceful state too. I realize this might seem a stretch for some of our fractious situations. At the same time, I wonder how we can reframe our experiences of conflict to improve them.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider this phrase – “go and come in peace” – as you bring to mind a situation you are about to approach that has you feeling unsettled.

  • What is the situation?
  • What is unsettling you most about talking to the other person about it?
  • What does going into the conversation in peace mean to you?
  • How might you reframe the situation, your concerns, or your attitude towards the other person to accomplish a peaceful approach?
  • How might you approach the situation in a peaceful way?
  • What is likely to transpire that could result in a negative reaction for you during the conversation?
  • What might be a peaceful response at that time (if the above occurs)? What else could you say to maintain a peaceful way of interacting?
  • How might you end the conversation in a peaceful way?
  • What other ways may you come to this conversation in peace?
  • What other ways may you leave this conversation in peace?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#peace

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching, Peace | 2 Comments

The Need to Be Right

One of the many attitudes to conflict that derails interpersonal conflicts (and most conflicts, really) is a need to be right. Having to “win”, to assert our perspective as the best one, and be “better than”, “smarter than” and so on, all seem to fall under this need. I’ve been thinking about why it is so important to some of us to be right such that conflicts focus on these polarized dimensions – right and wrong.

Considering this, I found myself asking a lot of questions. For instance, does the need to be right also mean there’s a need to humiliate the other person, or to make them feel foolish? Is it about an inflated ego or a deflated one? Is there a reason why we cannot understand that the other person is right as far as they are concerned? How come solutions and positions can only be right or wrong?

As you can tell, I have questions, but I don’t know the answers. It seems to me though we close off open mindedness, creativity and flexibility as core values when we have to be right and make the other person wrong. It also seems we lose dignity and kindness when we do so.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider a time you strongly asserted that you were right on an issue and would not back down as you answer the following:

  • What was the conflict situation in which you asserted you were right?
  • What made your view right in that situation?
  • What was wrong about the other person’s viewpoint, as far as you were concerned?
  • What motivated you to take a strong stance?
  • What did the other person object to about your view/position?
  • What did the other person consider right about their position or perspective?
  • What specifically makes this situation a matter of someone having to be right and someone having to be wrong? Why is that?
  • What did you accomplish by asserting your rightness in this situation? How did it help?
  • How was it not helpful?
  • If you were to accept part of what was right for the other person, what might that be? What difference would it make to the conflict?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#beingright
#rightandwrong

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Who Are You When You Are In Conflict?

Some conflictual interactions bring out parts of us we don’t really like or, even recognize at times! These parts may reflect what we learned about ways to manage conflict from observing a parent, sibling, partner or someone else. Or, they are impulsive, knee-jerk reactions we cannot seem to control. We have come to engage in these actions, mannerisms, words, etc. as habits.

We don’t have a rulebook on best practices when it comes to managing each and every conflict. As a consequence, most of us lack confidence and feel unsure about how to interact. However, we might – at some point – realize the ways we have adopted are not always ones we really admire about ourselves. We face the fact that we do not have all the skills we need to be who we want to be when in conflict.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog invites you to consider who you prefer to be when in conflict. It starts by asking you to bring to mind a dispute in which you are aware you copied someone else’s way of being in conflict that doesn’t really reflect how you want to interact.

  • What was the conflict about?
  • How did you interact that you don’t like?
  • Who were you modelling, i.e. from whose behaviour did you learn that way of interacting, if you did?
  • What do you admire about that way of being?
  • What don’t you admire about it?
  • How would you have preferred to “be” that would more likely and closely reflect who you are or want to be when in conflict?
  • What different outcome might result if you interacted as the person you prefer to be?
  • How would you want to be described by friends, family members or colleagues who look up to you as their role model at these times?
  • What would make you feel most worthy of their praise?
  • Going forward, how might you be sure to interact the way you prefer to be when encountering conflict?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

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Necessary Conflict

Like it or not, many interpersonal conflicts are necessary for our relationships to thrive. They’re important for being authentically who we are and not continually yielding to someone else’s needs over our own or twisting ourselves into something we aren’t to please others. Our health and well-being (when it comes to conflict) and the health and well-being of our relationship depend on being able to own and stand up for what is important to us and not give over our values and needs. They depend, too, on being open to the other person’s needs.

Yes, we can choose not to engage in conflict at all times. Not all disputes are necessary after all. What is necessary though is that we accept conflict is normal and inevitable and that they provide an opportunity to actually improve our relationships. After all, knowing and sharing what’s important to one another is an important part of healthy relationships. It’s important ultimately that we know when and why to choose standing up as opposed to standing down – knowing when the latter is the healthier route to take.

In this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog, you are invited to bring to mind an interpersonal conflict you are wondering about, i.e. whether to raise the issue(s) with the other person or not.

  • What is the conflict about?
  • If you don’t raise the issue(s) with the other person, then what?
  • What are you afraid of if you do raise the issue(s) with the other person?
  • What do you need from the other person that you are not getting?
  • How are you not being true to yourself?
  • How is not raising the issue(s) affecting your health and well-being?
  • How is not raising the issue(s) affecting the relationship?
  • What does the other person not know about you and your feelings about this situation that likely keeps them from really knowing you and what’s important to you?
  • If you were to be honest with the other person, what would that message sound like that would be authentically who you are?
  • What do you risk by expressing that message? How real is that risk (your answer to the last question)?
  • What’s most important to you right now as you ponder these questions?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | Leave a comment